Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Book Review: 'The Glass Rainbow' by James Lee Burke

"That they may successfully do evil with both hands--
The prince asks for gifts,
The judge seeks a bribe,
And the great man utters his evil desire;
So they scheme together. -- Micah 7:3 (NKJV)

This is the best new novel I've read so far in 2010.

The best of the Dave Robicheaux novels draw on deep roots into the antebellum South, long-standing class and racial divisions, mystical visions on the bayou, an unquenchable will for justice, Clete Purcel operating like a one-man demolition derby, and some of the slimiest villains ever conceived and described. Usually, I find one of the elements to seem under or over developed. Not this time. The Glass Rainbow is just right, and I strongly urge you to read and enjoy the book.

Dave is trying to find out who has been killing "throwaway" young women. At the same time, he's deeply disturbed that Alafair, his adopted daughter, is spending time with Kermit Abelard, who seems just right to Alafair . . . but all wrong to Dave. If that sounds like a plot that isn't very deep, you should remember that ninety percent of icebergs stay out of sight. Ultimately, the book succeeds as a dark and desperately pessimistic portrayal of the evil that men do. Unfortunately, it rings true. And that's the book's greatness.

One of the particular strengths of the book is the way that James Lee Burke lets you use your imagination to fill in the blanks that describe the ugliness that has been and is going on.

The action scenes are among the best that Mr. Burke has ever written. Two in particular will stay with you for a long time to come.

Bravo, Mr. Burke!

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Donald Mitchell. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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